On this day 100 years ago my mother Irene Goulding was born in Belfast. She and her younger sisters were the inspiration for my trilogy of novels set in N Ireland during WW2. Her first job was hand-painting linen tablecloths, but with the outbreak of war she went to work at Short Bros & Harland aircraft factory helping to build Stirling bombers. At the same time she and two younger sisters, Pat and Peggy, formed the ‘Golden Sisters’ singing in close-harmony – Belfast’s answer to the ‘Andrews Sisters’. As members of ENSA they entertained the troops and performed in concert and dance halls raising morale. Writing the books I began to see wartime life through their eyes and got to know them as young women. Sadly they’re all gone now but today I raise a glass to my mother, Irene. I’m so proud of you.
Great day on Saturday in Heywood, Lancashire at the annual 1940s event. The streets were packed with people in 1940s dress including lots of school children. There were WW2 military vehicles and a spitfire. Lovely to meet so many people – special thanks to Mike, Sharon, Pat, Simon, Jessica, Dean and everyone at Roch Valley Radio.
There was nowhere more fitting to launch a book about a Belfast family in the war years than this fantastic museum. The story of the city through those momentous times was all around us – the blitz, the role of women, the arrival of the Americans and above all the courage and tenacity of the people of Northern Ireland. The Golden Sisters and, of course, Martha would have found it both familiar and exciting and I’m sure they would have been happy to join Noreen (Sheila’s daughter) when she took to the stage to sing some songs of the period ‘Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree’ and ‘Sentimental Journey’. Many thanks to the museum and Blackstaff Press for a wonderful evening.
You can click on the link below to see the museum website and the small display of Golden Sisters photos and the scrapbook that inspired the novels.